Oh, job hunting… the excitement of a new chapter unfortunately dulled by lengthy cover letters, judgy interviewers and the impossible task of expressing yourself on a piece of paper.
My resume contains a plethora of diverse experiences, from PR to teaching to fundraising, because I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do after college. While that might have made me well-rounded, it didn’t help me build up very much “past experience” in any one field. And now that I’ve settled on pursuing a career in marketing, I have to try to frame my experiences to suit the job description.
After sending out what feels like thousands of emails and attending numerous interviews, I finally have a couple of promising opportunities on the horizon! Although I’ll be ecstatic when this process is over, I’ve gotten some great feedback and wanted to share some of my best tips.
1. It’s NOT all about who you know.
Personal connections are nice to have and can be extremely helpful, but that’s not the only way to get a job. I tried to work a few of mine and even reached out to the nephew of one of my customers at the café, but to no avail.
I turned to online job sites to find the majority of opportunities I applied for. LinkedIn is a great place to start since it lets you know if any of your connections are linked to a certain company. I also had a lot of success on Indeed and even got an interview by sending emails asking to be considered for “any positions that may be available.” Sure, you won’t hear back from 90% of the companies you reach out to, but all it takes is one to offer you the job.
Another option is going through a recruiter or temp agency. Sometimes staffing firms can connect you with a great long- or short-term opportunity to get you up on your feet.
2. Be professional.
In the way you act, the way you speak and the way you dress. As I stood up to shake hands at the end of one of my interviews, the woman complimented my dress and blazer and said, “You wouldn’t believe how many girls walk in here looking like Kylie Jenner.”
DON’T BE THAT PERSON. It’s a job interview, not a runway.
Another thing to remember is that it’s always better to be overdressed than under-dressed. I felt so “stuffy” with my high neckline and stockings, especially when everyone else in the office was wearing jeans, but I made a great impression and it was worth it in the end.
3. Make them laugh.
While it’s important to be professional, you also want to be personable. Of course, this applies in an interview, but can also be applied to your cover letter. A resume is short, sweet and to the point, but the cover letter gives you a chance to go into more detail and show off a bit more of your personality.
An interviewer once told me that she brought me in to interview for a position I was vastly under-qualified for because she liked my cover letter. More specifically, she loved the line that reads, “In my free time, I dance–both in my kitchen and on stage…” Sometimes that’s all it takes to get someone’s attention!
4. Ask your interviewer about their experience.
Obviously, you don’t want to turn the conversation before you’ve had a chance to sell yourself, but once you’re coming to the end of the interview and are lost for more questions, ask your interviewer how they got involved in the industry or what sets this company apart from others they’ve worked at in the past. It will help you establish a personal connection and help you get a deeper insight into the company’s culture.
5. Apply, even if you’re not qualified.
Many entry-level positions prefer 1-3 years of internship or other experience, but don’t let that deter you from applying. Don’t count yourself out before an employer has the chance to consider you.
On the other hand, if it’s a certain skill that you’re lacking, try to learn it on your own! Websites like Lynda, Codecademy, Hubspot Academy and Alison can help you practice new skills and spruce up your resume.
6. Don’t turn down an interview.
I was contacted by a staffing firm and asked to interview for a Sales/Recruiting position. I didn’t really think sales was my thing, but I went to the interview anyway to learn more about the position and, at the very least, to get some interview practice in a low-stakes environment. I didn’t care if I got the job or not, so I had nothing to lose!
I hated it. The interviewers were so judgy and fake and very apparently hadn’t even glanced at my resume before that very minute. They also talked so much, I could hardly get a word in edgewise.
When I went to my next interview for a position that I loved, however, I felt much more relaxed and confident. I had great authentic conversations about travel, pet peeves and trashy television, and I left feeling like a million bucks.
Are you job hunting too? Have a funny story to share or need help writing a cover letter? Let me know!